Spring has sprung and the sun has peeked through the clouds. At the moment, many of us are stuck inside and have to remember to keep six feet of physical distance between ourselves and others (learn more at CDC.gov).
If you do venture outside for essential reasons – or you are enjoying time in your own backyard, front porch, or patio, even if you’re sitting in a patch of sunlight on your couch – it can be easy to forget to protect ourselves from the harmful rays of the sun.
We want you to remember to protect yourself, especially during these times where there are so many distractions and other worries. Here is some information about why it is so important to wear sunscreen, even during our trademark Washington cloudy days.
What makes the sun so dangerous?
According to cancer.org, “Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Rays. Most of this exposure comes from the sun.” There are two main types of rays that can affect the health of your skin: UVA and UVB rays – and neither are safe!
Exposure to these rays adds up over time, so we should protect ourselves consistently.
How to protect ourselves from the sun:
There are many ways to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays.
Skin protection: Using sunscreen (and reapplying regularly) is a great method of reducing the harm caused by harmful UVA and UVB rays. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every 2 hours is vital to effectiveness. Don’t forget your toes! Finding and enjoying shaded areas helps to protect us, as well as wearing clothing that has good coverage.
Scalp and eye protection: A hat and sunglasses are great ways to protect your scalp and eyes. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every 2 hours is effective.
Cloudy days: Even on cloudy days, wearing and reapplying sunscreen helps protect you.
Learn more about sun protection at CDC.gov.
There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. Tanning in a tanning bed increases your risk of many types of skin cancer because it causes genetic damage to cells on your outermost layer of skin. This damage, starting from your very first tan, is cumulative. Avoid tanning and always protect your skin against the sun! Learn more about these risk factors at SkinCancer.org.
Self-exams are extremely important in preventing certain cancers. Done monthly, they can help in the early detection of skin cancer, aiding in successful early treatment.
The best way to do skin checks are in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. For those tough-to-reach areas, a spouse, partner, close friend or family member may be able to help you.
Become familiar with your skin so you are able to notice changes. Discovering a change in the patterns of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin will aid you in early detection. Take note and share any changes you may notice with your doctor. Learn more about skin checks at cancer.org.
Here is a guide that may help you identify changes: